AAA STATE BASEBALL
BY JIM MISUNAS
HAYS — Two years ago, the Great Bend Braves shocked Emporia 3-2 to force a second state championship game. Emporia won the second title game 11-3 to capture the state title.
Great Bend Chiefs pitcher Colin Hall (7-2) will attempt to match his heroics from two years ago when he outdueled Emporia, started two games and delivered the game-winning hit. Six players return from the Braves’ team two years ago.
The Great Bend Braves placed as A state runner-up in 2017 at Hays.
The Chiefs (25-14) like the underdog role in Wednesday’s AAA/AA state baseball opener against Emporia (30-1). Emporia will likely start Riley Wagner (9-0) or Cade Kohlmeier (7-1).
“It’s a tough pool to get out of, but we’ve proven we belong,” said Great Bend coach Travis Kurth. “The guys carry confidence in themselves. We want them to play baseball like they’re capable of playing.”
The Chiefs defeated the Hutchinson Colts 12-0, Salina Falcons 10-0 and Nickerson 8-1 to qualify for AAA/AA state.
“That’s the best our team has hit the baseball all summer at the zone tournament,” Kurth said. “Our success is dependent on how well we hit the baseball. It’ll come down to hitting.”
Pitchers are limited to 105 pitches per day and two appearances, requiring Kurth to use his whole pitching staff to navigate through five games. Hall, Townshend Kurth (6-4), Joey Soupiset (6-1), Alex Schremmer (1-3) and Calan Haberman are expected to throw.
Pitchers can throw the next day (30 pitches) with required one-day rest (45 pitches) and two-day rest (60 pitches). Kurth plans to keep pitch counts low the first day.
“You hope your pitchers are throwing strikes because you can’t waste pitches,” he said. “We like Alex Schremmer as a change-of-pace pitcher.”
Kurth wants his hitters to be selective, but aggressive at the plate. Riley Smith (.692, 9/13); Hall (.538, 7/13); Soupiset (.538, 7/13); and Schremmer (.538, 7/13) batted over .500 in the zone tournament.
“If we see a good pitch to it early in the count, we want to swing away,” he said. “We want the guys to swing at a good pitch to hit.”
Great Bend is familiar with Hays. The Chiefs played five summer games at Hays and surprised Hays High during this spring in the regional championship.
The Hays Eagles (32-6) meet the Ottawa Arrows (14-19) in the second pool game at Larks Park. Hays beat the Chiefs in four of five summer games. Emporia shut out Hays 3-0.
“Hays has good depth and a strong hitting lineup.,” Kurth said.
CLASS AAA/AA STATE HAYS
WEDNESDAY, LARKS PARK
AAA POOL—Emporia 30-1, Hays Eagles 32-6, Great Bend Chiefs 25-14, Ottawa Arrows 14-19
AA POOL—Sabetha 32-1, Iola 22-3, Russell 15-8, Norton 8-15
7-31—Sabetha vs. Norton, 1 p.m.; Great Bend Chiefs vs. Emporia, 3:15; Iola vs. Russell, 5:30; Hays Eagles vs. Ottawa Arrows, 8:15
8-1—Great Bend Chiefs vs. Ottawa Arrows, 10 a.m.; Sabetha vs. Russell, 12:15; Hays Eagles vs. Emporia, 6; Iola vs. Norton, 8:15
8-2—Russell vs. Norton, 10 a.m.; Ottawa Arrows vs. Emporia, 12:15; Sabetha vs. Iola, 6; Great Bend Chiefs vs. Hays Eagles, 8:15
8-3—Pool A winner vs. Pool B runner-up, 10 a.m.; Pool B winner vs. Pool A runner-up, 12:30 p.m.
GREAT BEND CHIEFS (25-14)
1—Joey Soupiset (6-1)—P-3B-RF
9—Riley Smith (0-2)—P-2B
10—Christian Zahnter (1-0)—P-LF
13—Colin Hall (7-2)—P-C
14—Alex Schremmer (1-3)—P-SS-LF
15—Layton Holden (2-1)—P-3B-RF
32—Nahum Olivas (0-1)—P-RF
33—Townshend Kurth (6-4)—P-1B-SS